In a blacklit room littered with dark leather couches, Amanda Lynn Deal warms up the hodge-podge crowd at Sanctuary Club. There’s a 50th birthday party, a group of consultant types in button-downs and puffer vests, bondage enthusiasts wrapped in neon cords, and one curious WW reporter packed into the sex-positive Pearl District nightclub.
The club has hosted Laughrodisiac for years, touting it as the longest-running (and filthiest) monthly comedy show in Portland. Although Deal took the reins as host only a few months earlier, the audience devours each joke she throws at them with uproarious laughter.
“I’ve always just been kind of a goofy kid,” Deal says as she reflects on her start in comedy. “I was homeschooled and I have a lot of siblings. I was always the one that would dress up in weird outfits or do prank phone calls just to make people laugh.”
Deal’s humor finds its niche in the space between relatability and self-deprecation. The 32-year-old has a laissez-faire “the world is burning so let’s roast some marshmallows” attitude to which many chronically online millennials and Zoomers can relate.
Kicking off the show, Deal begins: “I’m doing pretty good, which is weird for me. Anyone else trauma bond for two fucking years? You get out of a relationship like, ‘Was I drunk the whole time?’”
In between the sets of fellow comedians Shrista, Julia Corral, Jon Bennett, Taylor Evans, and Ryan Danley, Deal keeps the momentum flowing and holds the crowd’s attention—no easy feat for a comedy show anywhere, let alone Sanctuary Club. In fact, it was in this kooky, albeit very Portland, venue that Deal first started to find her niche.
“Todd Armstrong was the host and he had me come and do a set, then had me back for a feature set, and then for a headline,” she says. “Then he was like, ‘Holy shit. You’re funny. This room loves you.’”
Deal points out how Sanctuary Club has become a safe space for her and other comedians to hone their craft. “It’s been really wonderful because it’s such an accepting room,” she says. “It’s a place where I always feel very comfortable to be vulnerable.”
Although an impressive accolade in her comedy career, Laughrodisiac is only one of Deal’s many comedic ventures across Portland and Vancouver. She co-hosts Haymaker’s Power Hour Live Comedy show alongside Ronnie Macaroni and Jamie Carbone, co-hosts the open mic night at UnderBar in Vancouver, and hosts the Alberta Street Pub’s late-brunch comedy mic The F*ucks of Life (all while traveling around the Pacific Northwest headlining shows).
Although Deal is now recognized as one of the biggest names in the Portland comedy scene, her first set was at a dispiriting open mic night.
“I did not do well,” Deal states emphatically with a laugh. “I thought I was gonna go out there and crush it.” Instead, she was met with a standup comic’s fatal enemy: awkward silence. Still, she learned an important lesson: “There’s a difference between being a funny person and doing standup.”
Shortly after, Deal visited Chicago to see the legendary improv comedy troupe Second City, which she ultimately joined. Then, after driving a converted school bus to do standup across the nation, she moved to Vancouver and returned to familiar comedic stomping grounds.
“Portland can get a bad reputation of being too PC, but a lot of my friends from Chicago were excited to come and visit because of that,” Deal says. “You can make anything funny if it’s from your experience. If you’re making fun of someone else’s experience, you’re just a bully.”